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PLUSH AND HUSH (some text hidden)
By Jonathan Crouch
Ford's plush S-MAX Vignale gets the brand's latest EcoBlue diesel technology, which extends the appeal of this uber-luxurious sporting family MPV model. If you'd normally buy an executive saloon or estate but need space for a family, it could be a tempting package. Jonathan Crouch looks at what's on offer.
Ten Second Reviewword count: 91
Just how far can the appeal of family MPV models be extended up-market? That's the question posed by the car we're looking at here, Ford's improved S-MAX Vignale, which now gets the brand's latest EcoBlue diesel engines. The S-MAX we know about: it's the best handling and arguably most desirable large-ish seven-seat family People Carrier out there. But could it also really appeal at a more exalted price point close to around £42,000 if Ford were to up the spec and include a premium customer service package? It's a big ask.
Backgroundword count: 105
Large MPVs aren't only bought by families full of sticky-fingered children looking for the least expensive way of getting a super-sized brood from A to B. At the top end, they're also purchased as business conveyances. Or by business people who have more than 2.3 kids and who want in their People Carrier all the niceties they're used to enjoying in their usual executive saloon. And the kind of dealer service they might expect to get from a prestige brand. Ford thinks that there are enough of these sort of people around to justify the inclusion in its S-MAX range of this super-luxurious Vignale model.
Driving Experienceword count: 232
As you'd expect, Ford has chosen the most powerful S-MAX engine for this top Vignale version. That means the 2.0-litre EcoBlue diesel powerplant in its 190PS form, mated to 8-speed auto transmission. There's a choice or front wheel drive or intelligent all-wheel drive (I-AWD). This system continually measures how the car's wheels are gripping the road surface every 16 milliseconds; can adjust power delivery to individual wheels in 100 milliseconds; and can send 100 per cent of available engine torque to the rear wheels. This car benefits from its refined, smooth-shifting 8-speed auto gearbox which alters its shift pattern to suit your driving style. It also enables the fitment of Adaptive Cruise Control and includes an engine Stop & Go system. On the road, this S-MAX is as good to drive as it in its lesser guises. Ford's clever integral link rear suspension helps enhance the signature car-like, sporty driving dynamics with a configuration that features reduced-weight aluminium components. Additional sound-deadening materials and improved door seals contribute to a very quiet cabin too, creating a level of refinement appropriate to this Vignale model's more exalted price point. If you're graduating into one from a very plush version of the previous generation S-MAX, you'll find that road noise has been reduced by 2.5 decibels in the front and 3 decibels in the rear and Ford claims there's noticeably less wind noise than before.
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Category: MPV People Carriers
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